2. The male protagonist goes crazy, or it's revealed that he's been crazy all along.
Used in: Burnt Offerings (1976), The Amityville Horror (1979), The Shining (1980), Session 9 (2001), The Amityville Horror (2005)
Dream House better have a number of tricks up its proverbial sleeve, because the film’s trailer curiously reveals a big twist: Daniel Craig, playing the central family’s patriarch, is told that he’s a mental patient accused of murdering his wife and two daughters. It’s the kind of “Oh shit” moment that most films save for the climax, but Dream House’s marketing is centered upon that plot-point, so there has to be more surprises in store, right?
Frankly, who gives a shit? The whole “daddy’s gone crazy” concept is just one of the film’s many clichés on display. Going as far back as 1976’s underrated book-to-film chiller Burnt Offerings, haunted house flicks have exploited the father’s banked upon stability and protective presence in the family structure; by turning pops against his wife and kids, mommy and her seeds subsequently lose their supposed-to-be fatherly security.
Experienced horror movie watchers, meanwhile, lose all hope that the movie playing before them will take any legitimately creative risks. In other words, a realization sinks in: The filmmakers have, how we now like to say it, “pulled a Dream House.”